755 - 04/11 - Armaments on Merchant vessels UPDATE 2 - South Africa


The rights of the regional South African Police Services (SAPS) to issue permits has been revoked with immediate effect and authority in these matters has been taken to the National level. All Permit applications for entry of a vessel with armaments on board are being handled centrally in Pretoria and the regulations as set out in the Fire Arms Control Act, 60 of 2000 are now being enforced in full.

Last week a meeting was held and attended by; the head of Durban port security; the senior officer of the SAPS responsible for ports; representatives of SA Customs, and representatives from the South African Association of Ships Operators and Agents (SAASOA). Also in attendance were representatives of Protection Vessel International (PVI) one of the larger security service providers in the region.

It was agreed at the meeting that the 21 day ruling for permits was not practical as often vessel's were fixed on charters well within that time frame. Notwithstanding the agreement at the meeting the matter has been referred to Col Mahlebane of SAPS in Pretoria who in turn has indicated that the 21 day ruling applies without exception.

The next step is for the Association of operators and agents, SAASOA to make personal representation to the South African Police Service in Pretoria. A meeting is to be set up as a matter of urgency. P&I Associates will follow developments closely and will attend the meeting if possible.


The current ruling is the 21 day notice period for permits stands in force. The attached application form (SAP 520 import_aplication) has to be completed in all cases.

In addition to and along with the correctly completed form above, the following documentation has to be submitted by the agent or representative of the owner/operator of the vessel:

• Copy of foreign firearm license (country of export)

• Copy of foreign firearm and ammunition export permit (we might just have the weapons export permit)

• Motivational letter from owners/agent as to why the weapons are required and reason for short notice to our local SAPS for the application for a permit

• Copies of passport of the Master of the vessel and security personnel authorised to use the weapons

• Letter of authorisation for the personnel to utilise the weapons

• Previous ports of call, next port of call (after Durban) and end destination for the weapons

• Dangerous cargo declaration

• Details of vessel's local agent

• Quantity and description of ammunition and firearms

• Full details of vessel

• A copy of the vessel's international security/safety certificate.

As the situation appears to be constantly changing, with sometimes conflicting information, the Association would advise Members to contact their agents for the most up to date advice.

Source of Information:

P&I Associates (Pty) Ltd.

Durban, RSA

E-mail: reida@pandi.co.za

Web: www.pandi.co.za


Staff Author